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Blowout City

We need a clear cut blowout win tonight. I know some folks think that we are running the current poll as some kind of set up to impose expectations on this coaching staff, setting them up to look bad. But that is just off base. Everyone is looking and expecting for a blowout win tonight, including the team itself. Cruising through the game day round up will make it pretty clear that anything short of a blowout win, will be a let down for this football team:

DeWayne Walker is expecting the defense to shut out of the Owl offense. Money grafs from today's OC Register (emphasis added):

When the Bruins defense reconvened Sunday, the day after the Utah game, defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker sat them down and demanded more out of them, starting tonight when the Bruins play Rice at the Rose Bowl.

"Our goal is to shut them out. That's what Coach Walker has challenged us with," middle linebacker Christian Taylor said. "We want to show how good we really are. Then zero points. That's what our goal is for this week."

That's the attitude and determination Walker has brought to the UCLA defense, which was drilled week after week last season when ranked 113th of 117 Division I teams in total defense. And the Bruins, starved for success after a year that many defensive players have described as embarrassing, believe they're more than ready to deliver.

"If he says he doesn't want any points on that board, you better believe there are 11 guys out there on that defense that are doing everything that they can to not let the other team score," defensive end Bruce Davis said. "Our goal going into this week is to really beat up on these guys.

"Not to take anything away from them or their coaching staff or anything like that, because we have respect for their scheme and what they do. But at the same time, we want to set a new standard at UCLA. We want to be mentioned in the same sentences as the defenses when Kenny Easley, Jerry Robinson, Ray Bell, all those guys were here. Our goal this season and from here on out is to get back to that standard. We're going to do everything we have to (do to) get back there."

Easley, Robinson and Bell were defensive standouts in the mid to late 1970s. From 1976-78, the Bruins allowed 14.4, 17.8 and 14.3 points a game, respectively. In 1980, when Easley was a senior, UCLA allowed 12.3 points per game.
Those are big words coming out of this defensive unit after just one game against a MWC lot of folks are now unsure about. Lets see how they perform tonight. As they stated themselves, we are expecting nothing short of a DOMINATING SHUT DOWN performance tonight. This game shouldn't be close.

And the players know they need to put together a blow out win tonight if they want to get respect around the nation. Dohn on what the Bruins need to do tonight:
Inside the program expectations are high, as evidenced by preseason talk of challenging for the Pac-10 title. But national respect continues to elude UCLA, which ended 2005 ranked No.16 by the Associated Press, but has yet to break into the Top 25 this season.

There seems little to gain for UCLA entering this nonconference mismatch against the tiny school (enrollment is 2,988) from Houston, and a 7 p.m. kickoff means the only exposure most pollsters will have will be the final score and a highlight or two come Sunday morning.

So perception (meaning a blowout win) is big for the Bruins.
Again no one is asking this team to run up the score on Rice. No one is asking Pat Cowan to throw in fourth quarter so that the team can score 70 points. What we are looking for is a machine like performance from the first team O and D, so that the game is pretty much out of the reach before the second half. And hopefully we can see not only Pat Cowan (and lots of freshmen) in the third quarter, but perhaps Rashaan in the fourth.  We'd like to see a total dominating performance tonight in which the running game is back in gear and TQB having his way:

TQB, Photo: Keith Birmingham, Daily News

Yeah, the media glare is going to be on TQB. But we are going to be keeping our eye on the defense tonight. I mean UCLA defense gave up 23 points to this Owl spread offense last year.  One would expect we will improve on that performance tonight from Davis, Taylor if they want to be mentioned in the same company Easley, Robinson, and Bell.

To put together a convincing blowout performance tonight, Bruins will need to start fast. And starting fast is one of the keys to tonight's game per Lonnie White:
1 Start fast: UCLA had five come-from-behind victories last season. In last week's 31-10 victory over Utah, UCLA played a strong first half but led by only four points at intermission. The Bruins need to establish control at the beginning against Rice, which scored 27 first-half points in a 31-30 loss to Houston last week.

2 Slow down Smith: The Bruins defense will have a difficult time stopping Rice running back Quinton Smith, who has speed and power. The Owls like to get the ball to Smith as much as possible, either as a runner or receiver. Rice has a veteran offensive line that has started 12 consecutive games. UCLA's defense gave up at least 140 yards on the ground in every game last season. In the win over Utah last week, the Bruins gave up only 112.

3 Power running: Against Utah, the Bruins had only 107 yards rushing. UCLA needs to run the ball with consistency tonight, but it will not be easy. Rice gave up only 96 yards on the ground against Houston and first-year Coach Todd Graham said the Owls would again concentrate on stopping the run against the Bruins.
We talked about Quintin Smith in the BN Rice preview. He is a good athlete. But he should not be able to repeat last week's performance against the Cougars defense, if the Bruin defensive coaches and players back up their hype. We are going to find out tonight.

More on the Rice game from Lonnie White in this LA Times preview. As mentioned in the article Rice will probably not using the Utah strategy by focusing on just the running game. This means pressure will be on TQB to make some adjustments, as he will probably not be able to easily carve up the secondary like he did to Utah. So Olson will have to manage the game, use the running game, and hopefully able to lead a well balanced offense to destroy the Owl defense.

We expect nothing less than a total dominating performance by the Bruins tonight.

Pasadena should be a blowut city ... tonight.

We will be back with a live game thread tonight here on BN.